South Africa: Cyril Ramaphosa Elected New President of South Africa

15 February 2018

The South African parliament has elected Cyril Ramaphosa as the country's new president. Jacob Zuma's nine-year presidency ended on Wednesday following mounting pressure to step down.

Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as South Africa's new president on Thursday, following the resignation of former incumbent Jacob Zuma.

Ramaphosa was elected without a vote after being the only candidate nominated in the parliament in Cape Town, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said.

The new president said tackling corruption and mismanagement in state-owned enterprises would be a priority of his administration.

"I will try to work very hard not to disappoint the people of South Africa," Ramaphosa said following his election.

"The issues that you have raised, issues that have to do with corruption, issues of how we can straighten out our state-owned enterprises and how we deal with state capture are issues that are on our radar screen," the 65-year-old added.

A number of scandals surrounding Zuma had seriously damaged the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Zuma was removed as president effective immediately after he handed in his resignation letter on Thursday.

Ramaphosa is the fifth South Africa president since the apartheid system of white minority rule ended in 1994.

He is expected to deliver the much-anticipated state of the nation address on Friday evening. The speech was postponed while the ANC conducted closed-door negotiations regarding Zuma's future.

The two main opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), both refused to vote for Ramaphosa. As parliament began sitting, EFF members became disruptive and eventually walked out.

Ramaphosa said he wanted to meet political party leaders "to find a way of working together."

DA party leader Mmusi Maimane said the DA would cooperate with Ramaphosa if he acted in the interests of the South African people,

"We will hold you accountable and I will see you in 2019 on the ballot box," Maimane said.

Who is Cyril Ramaphosa:

Ramaphosa was elected leader of the ANC in December, narrowly beating Zuma's chosen successor -- his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. He is a former union leader-turned-businessman and is one of South Africa's wealthiest people.

Past achievements:

Ramaphosa played a key role in founding the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions and as secretary general of the ANC in the early 1990s he was part of the team that negotiated the end of apartheid and drafted South Africa's new progressive constitution. In his business ventures, Ramaphosa brought the McDonald's franchise to South Africa, with Forbes magazine estimating him to be worth more than 450 million dollars (€360.4 million) in 2015.

What Ramaphosa is offering: He has pledged to tackle the corruption and nepotism that tainted the nine-year presidency of Zuma, who stepped down after the ANC after the threat of a no-confidence vote.

law/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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